Desperate volunteers dig with bare hands as Indonesian mudslides claim scores of victims

Torrential rain and high tides contributed to disasters on Java, described by one survivor as 'like a nightmare'

Rescuers dug with their bare hands in an effort to save villagers trapped after torrential rains swept through central Indonesia, killing at least 18 and injuring almost 100.

Hundreds of volunteers, including residents, police officers and soldiers, used their bare hands, shovels and hoes to try and rescue people trapped by the mudslide yesterday in Central Java province's Banjarnegara district.

Around 105 houses were swept away and so far 18 people have been confirmed dead, 90 are still missing and 11 villagers have been taken to local hospitals after a cascade of red soil and rock struck small communities on the hillsides.

"It was like a nightmare. ... We suddenly heard a terrible roar and we were immediately fleeing from the rain of red soil," said Wahono, a resident who survived with his four family members. "Many failed and they were buried in the ground."

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A house can just been seen peeping out from the mud

Crying family members claimed they could hear relatives and friends calling for help during the night, but faced with a lack of tools and support prevented any real assistance.

"Mud, rugged terrain and bad weather hampered our rescue efforts," said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency.

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The rescue efforts begin

The disaster is the second landslide to hit the densely populated Java Island in days. On Thursday at least one villager died after mud and debris struck Central Java's Wonosobo district.

Indonesia, home to 17,000 people across a series of islands, is currently experiencing frequent landslides as seasonal rains and high tides form a deadly combination.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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